Breast Biopsy & Aspiration
Safe and quick, fine needle aspiration is a common procedure that removes cells from a lump in the breast, for the purposes of biopsy and further testing. Learn about the science, the benefits, and the experience.
What is a breast biopsy and aspiration?
Fine needle aspiration (also known as fine needle biopsy) is a minimally invasive procedure used to get a fast read on breast abnormalities—and determine what further testing might be needed, if any. Using a much thinner needle than other types of biopsy, this process is often used to rule out cancer in cysts that are suspected to be benign.
The doctor inserts an extremely thin needle into a cyst or mass—occasionally using an ultrasound as a guide. We collect the necessary cells and/or fluid, then examine these under a microscope, searching for cancer cells and other abnormalities.
Because of its quickness and ease, this procedure is a top choice among physicians who want to explore an area of concern in your breast—including any palpable lumps that have been discovered.
If the results come back negative, your doctor will typically not require a further surgical biopsy.
What should I expect from this biopsy?
Fine needle aspiration is a common, simple, and fast procedure. Properly performed, it’s much less invasive than other methods of biopsy—with little risk for bruising, infection, or scarring. In most cases, you won’t even need a local anesthetic. (It may be a comfort to know that the procedure itself is often quicker and more comfortable than an anesthetic shot.)
You’ll be asked to undress from the waist up, put on a gown, and lay on the examination table with your arm raised. The doctor will then insert a thin needle into your breast area. Each sample takes no more than 10-20 seconds.
From beginning to end, we’ll be there to discuss your questions or concerns, so please let us know if we can do anything to help you feel more at ease.
If needed, after your biopsy we’ll cover the area with a small bandage, and you’ll be free to go.
The same day, our experienced cytopathologist (a doctor who specializes in checking cells under a microscope) will review your results and send them off to your doctor—who will be in touch directly with the results.